Hari Bansha Dulal: Nepal - What Next?
Nepal - What Next?
By Dr.Hari Bansha Dulal
The Youth Communist League (YCL) has recently been in the news for the wrong reasons. First, it was ill treatment of the royalists in Birtamod, Jhapa; this was followed by an attempt to disrupt the Madhesi People's Rights Forum (MPRF) protest in Birgunj; physical harassment of hotelier Hari Shrestha; and then came a failed attempt to foil the MPRF's mass meeting in Gaur.
Finally, the one that caused everyone to raise their eyebrows was the carnage in Gaur where the instigation of MPRF's men by the YCL cadres took an ugly turn. Twenty-nine YCL cadres were mercilessly slaughtered in cold blood and many more were injured by MPRF's cadres.
The Maoist arrogance, MPRF's political shortsightedness and inability to keep protests peaceful, and the government's inability to effectively deal with the Maoists and address the grievances of ethnic groups has been slowly pushing the country into the vortex of a full-blown civil war. The April revolution had provided a perfect platform for the re-establishment of peace and democracy. But inability on the part of the Seven Party Alliance (SPA) to effectively handle the situation and manage people's aspirations and the Maoist insincerity towards peace and democracy has left a million dreams lie shattered.
It is time to analyze what went wrong, who are the culprits, and what can and needs to be done to bring the country back onto the track. It is time to ask an indelible question: Why have the so-called leaders failed, over and again? Are we better off now than when the Maoists were in the jungles? Has the government's endless concessions to the Maoists contributed to anything other than increased insecurity, chaos, and blurred future prospects?
The glib idea held by SPA that providing political power will automatically lead to “moderation” of the Maoists is the main culprit behind the present mess. What the political leaders at the helm of the affairs have failed to realize is that political power only begets the desires of the radicals to perpetuate and aggrandize power and does not contribute towards “moderation.” Bringing the radicals to the helms of power has never resulted in moderation. It simply does not work. On the contrary, after coming to power, they get even more “strong headed” and rhetorical.
After coming to power, Hitler did not budge an inch from what he had set down in Mein Kampf , nor did Mussolini disband the Fascists and stop killing his political opponents.
Iran's Ayatollah Khomeini's list of opponents that were to be silenced kept getting larger and bigger after he came to power in 1979. Even after being in power for four decades, the moderation of Fidel Castro never happened; he never toned down. The moderation of Kim Jong Il of North Korea and Hugo Chavez of Venezuela doesn't appear realistic either.
There is a colossal failure of intellect, effort, and imagination on the part of SPA. In order to understand the Maoist totalitarian aspirations, it takes an effort of imagination. It is necessary to put one's self inside the Maoist minds, to see things as they see them, to understand their beliefs, strategy, and actions.
However, it is not an easy task to analyze another's mind when it is so fundamentally different from one's own. It takes effort and the bitter truth is that the SPA leaders never made an effort to understand the Maoist beliefs, strategy, and actions. Had they made an effort to understand the Maoist traits, they would have understood what the Maoists are up to and learnt how to deal with them effectively. They would not have endlessly seceded to the Maoist demands and turned a blind eye to their atrocities.
Out of many mistakes, one of the major mistakes that the SPA government has been making is that it sees the ongoing ethnic movement through the lens of CPN (Maoist). Prime Minister Koirala, whose popularity skyrocketed during and after the April revolution, runs a risk of losing his newfound popularity if he does not desist from watching the ethnic movement through the Maoist prism. The delay in solving the ethnic movement will have far reaching repercussions.
The Gaur carnage should serve as an eye-opener, both to the government and the Maoists. Prachanda and his fellow ideologues might have never imagined that the people, whom they thought to be oppressed, could rise so quickly and counter the Maoist fiefdom by gunning down their fellowmen. It is absolutely understandable; however, the right to pick up guns is not Prachanda's or for that matter, the Maoist rebels' private domain. Nobody should be condoning the violence, but now, it appears that the only way to challenge the Maoist fiefdom is through the use of force, as the government has failed miserably to enforce law and order and provide ample security to its citizens.
The government has failed to take actions against the Maoists that have flouted the law and provide security to its citizens. The perpetrators of Lahan's killing, Nepalganj's riot, and Birtamod's inhuman acts are still at large. The government and the so-called human rights activists prefer to remain silent when the rights of ordinary citizens are infringed by the Maoist rebels. Why are the human rights of the YCL members killed in Rautahat more precious than the innocent Madhesi killed in Lahan, scores of Madhesis intimidated and harassed in Nepalganj, and the royalists subjected to the inhuman treatment at the hands of YCL cadre in Birtamod?
Unlike most human rights activists in Nepal, who are leftist ideologues and value human rights of leftists to be more precious than those in the center and the right, the government should get over the biases and strive towards protecting the rights to the life and liberty of all citizens, irrespective of their political ideology and affiliations.
As far as Gaur's carnage is concerned, before jumping to hasty conclusions, it is necessary to put things in context. What options did the MPRF cadres have at that point in time, when the YCL members showed up to foil their mass meeting? They basically had two options: (a) be humiliated and leave the ground for the YCL members (b) retaliate and teach the YCL members a lesson, so that from next time onwards they would learn to respect others' rights to protest. The royalists' fate in Birtamod, Jhapa has already taught the MPRF and other groups a good lesson on what happens if you appear weak. The only mistake the MPRF members committed in this case was that they went much farther than just teaching the YCL cadres a good lesson. The inhumane killings of the rowdy YCL cadres that occurred in Gaur were certainly a deplorable act and a colossal failure on part of MPRF to keep the protests peaceful.
If the sister organizations of the Maoists such as YCL that are working towards the establishment of a totalitarian regime are not sufficiently opposed, from within and outside the country, they will proceed to do exactly what they believe in. The followers of totalitarian regimes are brainwashed ideologues that see things only in black and white. For them, the grey area does not exist.
According to British Prime Minister Tony Blair, “You cannot teach people to hate and ask them to practice peace.” These ideologues have been taught to hate people that do not share their ideology and it is impossible to discipline them without using some kind of force or through the strict rule of law. As the latter is virtually non-existent in present-day Nepal, other groups might soon run out of options to protect themselves and their rights and be forced to follow the retaliatory path adopted by MPRF, unless the government acts strongly and dares to punish the Maoists for their atrocities. If the law and order situation is not improved and the YCL cadres engaged in infringing on the rights of others are not punished, the Gaur-type carnage may occur frequently.
The perpetrators of not only the Gaur carnage, but also of the Lahan and Birtamod incidents and riots of Nepalganj, should be brought to justice. The SPA government that has a tendency of falling into the Maoist spell should not get charmed this time around and commit the mistake of outlawing MPRF. If MPRF is outlawed, as suggested by Prachanda, it will open the door for a full-fledged civil war and turn Nepal into a killing field. Are we ready for a civil war?
The article was first
published in The Kathmandu Post on 29 March,